COVID Positivity Rate Continues To Surge

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According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the statewide positivity rate for Dec. 31 through Jan. 6 was 15.2 percent

On Thursday, Jan. 6, IDPH announced it is adopting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation for those aged 12-15 years to get a booster dose five months after receiving the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

“We know that COVID-19 vaccine booster doses can help provide ongoing protection against the Omicron variant,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Following the CDC’s recommendation, booster doses are encouraged for those aged 12-15 years who received their second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine five months ago.”

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices reviewed the available safety data following the administration of more than 25 million vaccine doses in adolescents and concluded COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. At this time, only the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is authorized and recommended for adolescents aged 12-15.

IDPH also announced on Thursday two new COVID-19 oral antivirals, Paxlovid (Pfizer) and Molnupiravir (Merck), will be available in Illinois later this month for those with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk for becoming severely ill, including hospitalization or death. Both antivirals will be available by prescription only, and should be taken as soon as possible after being diagnosed and within five days of the beginning of symptoms. 

Paxlovid is expected to reduce the risk of hospitalizations by 89 percent and Molnupiravir by about 30 percent. Molnupiravir is meant for use when other treatment options are not available.

“These new oral antivirals add new tools to our toolbox to keep people with COVID-19 out of the hospital,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “While vaccination, including boosters, is still the best way to avoid infection and prevent severe illness from COVID-19, these new antivirals given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration can help treat those who get infected and have a higher risk of becoming severely ill.”

In addition to the oral antivirals, people can still receive monoclonal antibody treatment (mAb) to help prevent COVID-19 from progressing to a point where a person needs to be hospitalized. Unlike the new oral antivirals, mAb are administered intravenously (infusion) or through several shots. Both require a prescription.

IDPH is currently working with pharmacies around the state to offer the antivirals. While these antivirals are free from the federal government, they are in limited supply.

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